Mistakes travelers make on short flights

Choose your airplane seat wisely, even on a short flight.

Choose your airplane seat wisely, even on a short flight. Thomas Barwick via Getty Images

It’s understandable that travelers spend more time preparing for long-haul air travel than for one- or two-hour flights, but that doesn’t mean they have everything figured out when it comes to shorter plane trips.

With that in mind, HuffPost asked travel experts to share the most common mistakes travelers make on short flights, as well as their tips for avoiding them. From forgetting crucial supplies to being unprepared for an often smaller plane, here are some things to keep in mind.

Appear with low battery

“Some smaller planes operating shorter flights may not have all the charging options (USB ports, power outlets) you might expect to find on larger, longer-haul planes, so make sure your devices are charged before you board to ensure you don’t run out of juice mid-flight,” said Eric Rosen, director of travel content at The Points Guy.

In addition to charging your devices before your flight, consider traveling with a portable power bank as a backup.

Getting too comfortable

“A common mistake I see travelers make on short flights is getting too comfortable — taking off their shoes and sleeping too deeply,” said Gabby Beckford, founder of travel site Packs Light.

He stressed that what is expected from a long night flight can be a detriment to a short-distance trip.

“It’s a short flight!” Beckford said. “You’re going to end up having problems when it comes time to disembark.”

Forgetting to bring sustenance

“These days, it’s not uncommon to be stuck on the tarmac longer than expected or experience a cancellation or delay,” said Jessica van Dop DeJesus, founder and editor of The Dining Traveler. “Be sure to bring snacks and water.”

Short flights don’t always offer a full service of drinks or snacks, especially if there’s a lot of turbulence, so don’t rely on that cart for sustenance.

“I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, ‘It’s a short trip, I’ll eat later,’” said travel blogger Sean Lau. “Unfortunately, in-flight food often tastes bad and costs an arm and a leg, and there’s no guarantee of service on shorter routes. My advice is to take the time to eat before your flight or bring your own snacks. Better yet, sign up for services like Priority Pass and take advantage of food and drinks in airport lounges before departure!”

Turbulence may mean there will be no drink service on a short flight, so consider bringing your own beverage on board. Turbulence may mean there will be no drink service on a short flight, so consider bringing your own beverage on board.

Turbulence may mean there will be no drink service on a short flight, so consider bringing your own beverage on board. izusek via Getty Images

Choosing the wrong seat

“Always consider your seat,” says Adam Duckworth, president and founder of Travelmation. “Even though it’s a short flight, you’ll encounter many of the same situations as on a long flight. For example, people will have to get up. If that bothers you, book a window seat. If you prefer more space, book a premium class ticket. Two hours in the main cabin is very different from two hours in business class.”

Short flights are often just the first step in a multi-leg air trip, so plan accordingly when you have to make a connection.

“As with any flight, I always recommend sitting near the front of the plane, especially if you have a layover,” Duckworth said.

Ignoring time constraints for entertainment

A short flight might not be the best time to dive into that new superhero epic you’ve been dying to see.

“Be mindful of the in-flight entertainment you’re offered,” Duckworth said. “If it’s a short flight, you may not finish the movie or TV show you’re watching, so keep that in mind.”

Going to the airport unprepared

“A very common mistake is not preparing properly for the airport experience: not taking enough time, not having documents and identification ready, not organizing liquids properly,” said travel blogger Esther Susag. “This creates unnecessary stress.”

Although short flights seem less important, they are still part of the typical airport and airplane experience.

“My tips are to arrive at the airport early, have everything ready to go through security without a hitch, bring an empty water bottle to fill up after going through security, download entertainment like movies, shows and podcasts and dress in layers for the different cabin temperatures,” Susag added. “Also, I always double check my carry-on and personal items for any loose liquids that could get me detected.”


Be mindful of how much you pack for your trip, especially if you don’t want to check your luggage at the gate or stuff extra stuff under the seat in front of you.

“Short flights often involve smaller planes,” Beckford said. “Carrying too much stuff is often a drawback and can make the experience more uncomfortable due to limited legroom and cabin size.”

Assuming you don’t need any backup time

Don’t forget to include some buffer time in your day if you have a connection or other time-sensitive factors.

“Given the amount of air traffic we’re seeing these days, people on short flights might assume they’ll be on and off the plane in a matter of hours,” Rosen said. “But travelers should plan for unexpected delays, including flight delays and tarmac waits due to traffic congestion. Any of these situations could add hours to an otherwise short itinerary, so pad your schedule.”